Wait...state funds? For Johnstown? Aren't they already supposed to be getting millions from the Johnstown Flood Emergency Tax we're paying on every bottle bought at the State Store System? It's hundreds of millions of tax dollars, according to every State Store Supporter. So how come Governor Wolf wants to give them even more?
|I don't know about you, chum, but this is on my mind|
every time I have a cocktail. Here's to Johnstown!
Except that rings incredibly hollow when you look into the actual details of the origin of the tax, which I happen to have handy. The bill is titled "AN ACT Imposing an emergency State tax on liquor, as herein defined, sold by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board..."and it's dated June 9, 1936, a little less than three months after the flood (which affected other cities in Pennsylvania, as far away as Lock Haven and Williamsport). There was no other 'emergency' at the time, so calling it the "Johnstown Flood Emergency Tax" is perfectly honest, and the people at Revenue are tap-dancing.
But they're dead right about one thing: whatever you call it, the tax was never meant to be only for Johnstown. It was just money, that went to the General Fund, for politicians to do with whatever they wanted. Nothing makes that more clear than the fact that they raised it, twice, 30 years after the flood was over.
The Johnstown Flood Emergency Tax is one of the classic examples of a "temporary" tax that never ever goes away. And back in 1936, we were still so happy just to be able to buy booze legally again after Prohibition that the bluenoses were able to nail an additional 10% tax on at the drop of a hat...or some rain. We're still paying it, even though that emergency is long over; hell, the 1977 Johnstown emergency is long over too. It doesn't matter...Pennsylvania will keep that 18% burden on the back of booze buyers forever. You pay more than your fair share. Kind of rankles, don't it?
Would privatization help this? No, the tax would still be in there. But we could take the opportunity to change it to a gallonage tax (which would make cheap booze more expensive, rather than the backwards way today's tax works), we could make it a more reasonable bite. That's the "Rewrite the Code" part.
Governor Wolf! Johnstown tax money for Johnstown! And when it doesn't need it any more...declare an end to the 'emergency!'